Summary Of Finley's Athenian Demagogues

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A demagogue, defined by Michael Signer, is a “political figure who fashioned themself as [a] leader of the masses and who would go to almost any extreme to hold and expand their power” (2009, p. 20) . This is not a new idea. As M. I. Finely covers in their work “Athenian Demagogues,” the writer Thucydides discussed the demagoguery of the fall of Athens in the 400s B.C. Many other nations throughout history have also been exposed to this system of power. In America, this term, since 2011 , began to gain relevance as Donald J. Trump, of television and business fame, rose to power as the forty-fifth president of the United States. Many did not think he would ever see the Oval Office and would simply be relegated to the American collective consciousness…show more content…
One, previously mentioned in Finley’s work “Athenian Demagogues,” is the case of Athens and multiple demagogues. The author states that “the strength of the Athenian government comes precisely from that which many merely criticize, namely, the fact that it is government by a faction acting unashamedly to its own advantage” (1962, p. 9). Here, Finley speaks of the pseudo-democracy that was the Athenian government after the demagoguery had begun, and uses “strength” to simply mean enduring and impervious. Another example in more recent history is the more obvious Adolf Hitler. Hitler’s reign over Germany and Nazi Europe started with his skill with speaking, an essential for a demagogue. He also had a meteoric rise to power and utilized a profuse amount of propaganda. A third, and related to Donald Trump, is Vladimir Putin’s Russia. While Putin hides behind the alternating titles of president or prime minister, he also exemplified the characteristics of a demagogue until he infiltrated the government and currently leads a fascist state. These demagogues tell the story of what can happen when democracy is
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